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“Facebook” and “DNA” are two words you probably don’t want to hear in the same sentence. But an ambitious new research project, Genes for Good, is now using the social network to collect genetic information. The researchers heading up the project say that your information is safe with them — but not everyone’s on board.
Genes for Good participants will answer questions about their lifestyles and health histories using a Facebook app. The scientists hope to collect data from 20,000 people, which will be used for research on the role that genes play in disease, and the ways that genetic and environmental factors interact to create conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and schizophrenia.
Facebook’s powerful platform will allow the researchers to access a large, diverse group of people. Using social media, the researchers hope to sidestep some of the hurdles of traditional recruiting methods, which are often slow and expensive.
The main concerns for potential participants is privacy-related. While the research team says that Facebook does not have access to any of the participants’ information beyond the fact that they signed up, the idea of having personal health information hosted on the social networking giant is disconcerting to some.
“We will do our best to keep your information secure, but … there is a small risk,”Dr. Michelle Meyer said. “We obviously hope that people will feel like the balance of advancing our understanding of the links between health, disease and the environment — and eventually enabling better treatments for many diseases — is worth that small risk.”
(Via Huffington Post)